Long time Placerita Canyon resident, Phil Rawlins, passed away quietly at his home on Thursday, May 28, 2009 at the age of 79.
He chose to live his colorful life to the fullest. While Phil was thought of most recently as a calf roper and bulldogger cowboy, for 52 years, he successfully was in the motion picture business.
Born in Glendale, California, Phil attended North Hollywood High School where he played basketball. While attending Pierce College, he started the rodeo team, which after their first big win in Arizona competition put Pierce on the rodeo map. Phil roped ever since, including after he turned 40 when he joined the Senior Pro Rodeo Circuit Association (PRCA). In fact, at the age of 57 he made the PRCA Sierra Finals in Calf Roping. Balancing his career with the rodeo circuit, he competed in 35 to 40 rodeos a year, primarily in California though he also successfully participated at Calgary, Cheyenne, Cow Palace, Pendleton and Salinas events.
In addition to his love of rodeo, for the first 10 years of his film career, Phil was a stuntman. He doubled for Clint Eastwood in "Rawhide", rode shotgun on the stagecoach in "Gunsmoke", as well as doubled for Randolph Scott, Robert Ryan, and Don Murray, the latter in "Bus Stop" which featured Marilyn Monroe.
After 10 years, he was lucky to get into production first as Second Assistant Director in "Fury", and then primarily as First Assistant Director at Warner Brothers Studios. Credits at that time include "Hawaiian Eye", "Cheyenne", "Bronco" and "77 Sunset Strip". For two seasons, he served as Director on "F Troop", the first year as Assistant Director until directing the last episode of the first season, liking it so much, he directed half of the second year. He then directed "Adam 12" and "High Chaparral".
After the stint at directing, Phil decided he'd rather go back into Production where he served as Production Manager for "Coma", "Star Trek" motion picture, and "Gremlins 1 & 2. During this period of time, he also did second unit production in Spain on "The Wind and the Lion" with Sean Connery. In addition, after his suggestion to his sister Lisa Rawlins, a Warner Brothers Vice President, who was most instrumental, the State of California created the Film Commission during the term of then Governor Deukmejian.
In 1969, Phil moved to Placerita Canyon after learning about the Canyon from local Newhall pioneer Fox O'Callahan, a famous rodeo cowboy who also worked in the motion picture business. Phil lived in an original cabin built in 1915, until 1985 when he moved into his custom home. Up until his passing, Phil had been seen riding his horses or driving his tractor performing trail maintenance.
In 2007, Phil was bestowed the honor of receiving a star on the Newhall Western Walk of Stars, as well as being recognized by the Placerita Canyon Property Owners Association as a Placerita Gold honoree. For the past two years, he served on the Board of the PCPOA and the Placerita Canyon Trails Council, representing himself as a true guardian of Placerita Canyon's open space.
Phil is survived by his beloved wife of 27 years, Fran Rawlins; two sons, cameraman Lex Rawlins of Valencia and film editor Clay (Gaylynn) Rawlins of Castaic; three beautiful granddaughters Kylie, Mackenna, and Lacy; his brother David Rawlins and sister Lisa Rawlins-deLorimier.
A celebration of Phil's life will be held Wednesday, June 3, 10 a.m. at Eternal Valley, Newhall. In lieu of flowers, donations in Phil's memory may be made to the Justin Cowboy Crisis Fund, 101 Pro Rodeo Drive, Colorado Springs, CO 80919 or at www.justincowboycrisisfund.org.
RAWLINS, Phil (aka David Rawlins)
Born: 1930, Glendale, California, U.S.A.
Died: 5/28/2009, Newhall, California, U.S.A.
Phil Rawlins's westerns - production manager, director, screenwriter, actor:
Fort Defiance - 1951 [actor]
Gun Fury - 1953 [actor]
Maverick (TV) - 1961 [assistant director]
"F Troop" (TV) - 1965-1967 [assistant director]
The High Chaparral (TV) - 1967 [director]
The Man Who Loved Cat Dancing - 1973 [production manager]
Honky Tonk (TV) - 1974 [production manager]